6th grader makes national headlines for standing up to school dress code

Maine girl says 'I am not a distraction'

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — She’s on the pages of Teen Vogue, Allure, and Cosmopolitan magazines – not a celebrity, but a sixth grader.

Molly Neuner, 11, of Portland, Maine, is making national headlines after she stood up to school officials enforcing a dress code she thinks is "unfair and sexist."

The dress code at King Middle School prohibits students from wearing "short or tight-fitting skits or shorts, (no shorter than finger-tip length) thin strapped, revealing tops."

Neuner said sixth graders recently had a meeting with teachers, and when the topic of the dress code came up, two teachers told them it was because their clothing can be a "distraction" to boys.

Neuner said the next week at school, a teacher measured the width of her tank top straps and the length of her friend’s shorts in front of the class.

"It just made us feel uncomfortable," she said.

When she told her mother about it, Christina Neuner showed Molly the hashtag “I am not a distraction” on Instagram. It inspired Molly’s next outfit for school.

"The minute I saw that, I knew that’s what I wanted to do," she said.

Neuner wore a spaghetti-strap style tank top to school, and instead of sleeves, wrote the words "I am not a distraction" on her arm in marker. When her female classmates saw her, they joined in.

Their movement caught the attention of blogs and national magazines, and has been shared by the ACLU and Huffington Post, among other major outlets.

It has prompted school officials to review the dress code policy, and ask for student input at the end of the school year to make possible changes.

Superintendent Xavier Botana said they are carefully reviewing policies and considering "smart adjustments" to the dress code.

Neuner said she would like to see those changes sooner – but is glad school officials were receptive.

She has received comments from students and parents across the country, and the world – some telling her she’s not distracting, but inspiring.

"It just felt so empowering to know that other girls have looked up to me, and that they are going through this," she said. "Now they have another reason to stand up for themselves."

Copyright 2017 NECN


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